Tuesday, March 17, 2020

New Orleans!

From Huntsville, we drove to New Orleans, to the RV park on a Reserve Base on the west bank in Belle Chasse.  Finally, the temperature were higher – 50’s during the day.  Our first whole day there, we purchased a 3 day on/off bus trip around the city.  Turned out to be a great investment!  We drove the truck into the city, with Tugboat inside, and parked.  The idea was, since it took about 30 minutes to get into the city (and another 30 to return to the camper), Tug would be better off waiting in the truck for us.  It worked out very well.

That first day, we went to Café Du Monde, to get the required café au latte and a beignet.  It was raining steadily, but, even so, the café was pretty crowded.  A young woman was looking for a seat, and we offered to share our table.  She was in town for an interview and we had a very enjoyable conversation.  We visited the Visitor’s Center, got some suggestions.  Walked around the French Quarter a bit, then rode the bus around.  When we had had enough of walking around in the rain, we decided to try one of the suggested places for lunch.  On the way there, we saw other places that looked promising – two guys standing there encouraged us to try the one place.  We went in, but they were closing.  The waitress there recommended Mr. B’s, just down the street.  Excellent choice!  We talked to a couple from Savannah at the bar, who strongly recommended the cookbook.  We did buy it, and the chef autographed it!  Later, as I read the book, I got excited about some of the Creole dishes that I can make once I get my whole kitchen back at home!  After that meal, it was time to make our way back to the truck and Tugboat – he was fine, but was certainly ready for a walk.

On Day two, we again drove into town, parked the truck and Tugboat, and walked around for a bit in the French Quarter.  It being lunch time, we stopped at a likely looking spot for a wonderful meal.  We then found the closest bus stop, and rode around their loop to the World War II Museum.  What an interesting, engaging, touching place.  We could have spent much more time there.  Part of the experience was a movie about Dday – I came away with tears, as the movie had ended with a line of soldiers, who turned into the current day men (my father’s age).  Oh my, so touching.

There was quite an extensive exhibit and films about the Japanese internment.  It was hard to see all that.
One of my favorite parts was a room that was filled with pieces of art, each one created using pieces of glass from churches and cathedrals that had been bombed.  A Navy chaplain, then a young man, had gathered pieces of these windows as he visited the various sites of bombed out churches.  He packaged each collection and mailed them home.  Each package was used by a different artist to create very different pieces of art.  I was so impressed and touched by the thinking of that young chaplain in gathering those pieces.  As you will see, from the pictures below, I was most impressed and enjoyed the art pieces.

After the WWII Museum, we hopped back on the bus, rode over to the French Market, and hiked the 7 blocks or so back to our truck and Tugboat.  After giving him his walk, we went back down the street to the “Irish Cultural Museum”.  No food served there, but they did have Jamieson’s and Irish coffee!  We took Tugboat there, since they had a large patio and dogs are welcome.  In talking to the owner, he suggested we go next door (which was indeed a dive), get some crawfish, and bring it back to eat there on his patio with Tugboat….Sounded like a good idea, so that’s what we did.  That was our first, and likely our last, experience with crawfish!  Seemed like lots of work for very little pay off!  But, it was interesting and fun, and, I think, a requirement for a visit to New Orleans!

The third day, we used our bus passes to ride around once again – it was interesting that each time we rode the bus, we got a different guide.  We lucked out and got our favorite, Ellen, twice!  We had planned to take the Garden District walking tour that day, and exited the bus there, on Magazine Street.  Since we had some time to wait, we stopped in an Irish bar, had a beer and some delicious and very fresh oysters!  The walking tour was very crowded, so we decided to skip it.  We went on around the loop to the Kern’s Mardis Gras warehouse.  Very cool!  I never thought I wanted to go to Mardis Gras before – now I do!  We learned about the kreu’s (not crew, but kreu) who pay for the huge elaborate floats and the ‘throws’ (trinkets for the crowd).  There are no corporate sponsors, just regular N’awlins folk who like to party.  That day, we stopped near the base, and had another terrific New Orleans style dinner at a restaurant called Zydeco.  Gumbo and barbequed shrimp for me, a seafood platter for Dan – both pretty good.

Mardi Gras figure

Satchmo, Louis Armstrong!

our cute and funny guide

On our fourth day in New Orleans, another rainy day, we had decided to do some maintenance, some laundry, and lay low.  On one of my trips to the laundry room, I had one of those delightful encounters that are a part of this traveling life.  Kathy Bowen and I started talking – discovering that they are full timers in their RV, are on pretty much the same route as we, are interested in doing the Great Loop, have a son in the Navy in Norfolk – pretty much have parallel lives!  We went to dinner with Kathy and Tim, and had a wonderful time.  I know we will see them again.

Fifth day here (pretty remarkable, since we had planned on two nights….), we decided to drive the 60 or so miles to the southern end of the Mississippi River.  We had been to the beginning of the river in Minnesota a few years ago.  The southern end isn’t as easy to spot, since there are dikes on both sides of the road.  Once we saw signs of “high water” on the road, we turned back!  We stopped at a local restaurant, Changes, for some red beans and rice, fried catfish, a Po Boy sandwich with shrimp and oysters.  Yumm!  Then we stopped at Fort Jackson.  The Fort is closed, but we walked around it and up on to the dike overlooking the swiftly moving river.  There are huge ships going by, just like we see up in the Great Lakes.

Cafe DuMonde

beautiful church in French Quarter

love the trees and the architecture

Jackson Park

more of the typical architecture

outside sculpture

bronze sculpture in a shop

another sculpture in the shop

one piece of art in the WWII museum made from glass fragments

another piece of art in WWII museum from cathedral windows

another piece of art from bombed cathedrals' windows

explanation of the art pieces

the man who thought to collect those pieces...

Hotel Monteleone bar, with merry go round!

beautiful clock in Hotel Monteleone

sadly, Hard Rock Hotel that collapsed during construction

Drove as far south as possible from New Orleans - saw (outside only) of Fort Jackson.

Fort Jackson

Fort Jackson

Big ship coming up the Mississippi

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